former territory in central & NC Italy, ruled by the papacy from the 8th cent. until 1870
See Papal States in American Heritage Dictionary 4
A group of territories in central Italy ruled by the popes from 754 until 1870. They were originally given to the papacy by Pepin the Short and reached their greatest extent in 1859. The last papal state—the Vatican City—was formally established as a separate state by the Lateran Treaty of 1929.